I’ve migrated…


I’ve migrated this blog to a so called self-hosted site – and you’ve reached the new improved version. If you find any glitches, or things missing, please let me know!

A list of workshops held at my purpose-built studio is available here.
Connect to me at The Studio on Facebook by clicking here.

New benefits:

  • Pinterest hover buttons added – quicker way to add an image to Pinterest – hold your cursor over an image and then click on the Pin it button that pops up in the top left. Most images should work.
  • Sidebar added to single page posts – making it easier for those directly linking to a post to navigate round the rest of the blog and also to see the subscribe options.
  • Continuous scrolling on home page – as you get to the bottom of the page, more posts will load, just like a Facebook newsfeed.
  • Added related posts feed – at the bottom of individual posts, including pictures, so that you can more easily find inspiration.
  • Updated font - to make text more readable on screen.
  • Custom page header images - just because I can and it looks pretty ;)
  • Instant Digital Download capability – now you can get instant access to digital downloads, no more time zone issues or waiting for me to send a link
  • New Workshop Calendar added to side bar – just click on the title to go to the workshop information and booking page.
  • Google AdSense advertising added – to support hosting costs – please let me know if you find any inappropriate adverts!

Raining Cats & Dogs Cards (for Jones Crafts)

As well as the extraordinarily large layout I did earlier in the month, I’ve used the Graphic45 Raining Cats & Dogs Collection to make four cards from what was left over from my kit sent by Jones Crafts. As you might expect, all the papers complement one another and are ideal for matting up. Embellishments are a cinch with the die cut chipboard tags and there’s also a couple of sheets of die cut card stock with folders/envelopes with matching inserts. Quick edging with Walnut Stain Distress Ink hides those annoying white edges and I’ve added faux brads using Onyx Liquid Pearls. Hey presto, four cards for the pet lovers amongst your friends and family. The Cat’s Meow card is 8×8″, the other three are 6×6″.


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Sparkling Baubles Card (for Creative Expressions)

IMG_5174_wFor my penultimate DT project for Creative Expressions, I’ve gone all sparkly! Featuring heat embossing, two types of glitter, two types of coloured PVA and two types of card, this relatively clean and simple card is packed full of winter sparkle.

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Potted Poinsettia (for Creative Expressions)

NB-140910When I first saw the poinsettia stamps and dies from Sue Wilson’s Festive Collection for Creative Expressions, I knew I had to go 3D. There’s nothing quite so Christmas as a classic potted poinsettia. A simple, though repetitive, make, this will brighten any room.

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Creative Blog Hop

I’ve been invited to take part in this international creative blog hop by Peg Adkins Robinson – we took Tim Holtz’s online class (Creative Chemistry 101) together at least two years ago, and have stayed in contact ever since. Peg’s blog can be found here:  http://on-account-a-scrap.blogspot.com/

This blog hop is a tour of creative blogs to so that we can meet new crafty friends, share inspiration and techniques, and generally discover new sources of creative outpouring. Peg did the same in her blog hop post last week – click here to see it.

Here’s a mini-interview to give you some background to me and my work:
1. What I am working on?

On my studio table at the moment is the aftermath of a workshop making a Tim Holtz-style wallhanging and an acrylic and bitumen room nameplate for a friend about to leave to her first year at Sheffield University, and packs of Craftwork Cards papers and accoutrements ready for this week’s crafting frenzy making samples for their Four Day Deal on Create & Craft TV next week. Also in sight is the memory/happy times jar sample ready for my workshop in January, a decorated MDF wreath and card samples for my workshops at Coleman’s Craft Warehouse (WOR4327 & WOR4328) in October.

2. How does my work differ from others in my genre?

This is probably something other people can tell me! I think I work in a non-fussy way, concentrating on highlighting techniques and leaving enough white space on a piece to set off the focal elements. I really don’t like loading a piece with unnecessary layers or frippery, or indeed colour, when a little can make a bold statement.

3. Why do I create what I do?

Firstly – it’s the way I (hope to) make my living! Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I believe creativity is a gift from God, and in expressing it, I am making him happy. I also get enjoyment from watching others discover their own creative gift, and if that’s during one of my classes it’s even better! I’ve also taken on creativity as a career as it offers me the most flexibility to manage my mental health (I have recurrent depression).

4. How does my creative process work?

It depends on what I am doing. If it’s work for a design team, usually the materials and stamps I am given to work with provide all the inspiration I need to create samples. For example, the Paper Kitsch Kit from Craftwork Cards screamed out pinafore dress to me and that’s what I set out to create. I just took it a little further than a die cut on a page and created a 3D folded skirt and full mannequin complete with stand – as you can see here.

For some arts in worship work I’ve done, inspiration comes from what I am listening to at the time as up to now I have created pieces as I have been sitting in the pews at church during the services. Other projects have been created in response to pieces of  music and the theme of the service the work is to be included in.

Other work is inspired by materials and their chemistry; technique  reference books; the latest craft fad to be featured on social media; what my crafty friends are playing with; commissioned work; an empty space in a room that needs a piece of artwork; things under the floorboards, e.g. 1930s newspapers from when the house was built; nature.

Now comes an admission – I’m friends with many artists and crafters, but they’re either busy with their ‘other’/’proper’ jobs, or already taken part in this blog or similar. I’ve also not had much chance to follow this up as much as I would have liked either. As they say, all good things come to an end, and so, unfortunately, does this branch of the creative blog hop. My apologies! As you explore my blog, you’ll see that where I have been inspired by something or someone, I have added links to the inspiration – follow these and see where you end up :)

Oh, and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog as well for updates and information, particularly as I am planning to launch a series of online classes in the near future.


Art Journaling – a vivid quote

20140905_wI took some time out from the TV last night – mainly to stay awake – and worked on a page in my art journal. Inspired by this month’s art journal session, the text is outlined with Black Sakura Gelly Roll pen, painted in with Dr Ph Martin’s Bombay ink, and edged with blended and stencilled Distress Ink. And the blue streaks? Wayward Brusho crystals following a spillage last week – those darn crystals can travel!

I think I’d like the fill-in colour wash to be lighter so that the black text stands out more – the ink was already diluted 50-50 with water. The colour choice was based on a {design seeds} image – a fabulous site for when inspiration isn’t coming quite as quickly as you’d like:


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Raining [Cats And] Dogs (for Jones Crafts)


This month, for Jones Crafts, I have been sent the new Graphic45 Raining Cats & Dogs Collection of papers. At the risk of alienating half my loyal readership, I don’t really do cats… so it’s just raining dogs in this massive layout! I’ve used an Ikea Ribba 50x50cm frame to hold the layout, placing the main sheet behind the mount which is conveniently sized at 11½” square aperture. The pictures of Esther and her pups are mounted on the various complimentary papers, embellished with various of the die cut chipboard tags, cut out stamps from the Mr Whiskers page (omitting the cat ones, obviously) and layered paper ribbon from the Playful Pals page. A few paper flowers decorated up to more or less match brings the centre to the mount and breaks up the border.

I’ve edged everything with Walnut Stain Distress Ink, and that includes ageing the gingham ribbon bows as well so they didn’t stand out quite as much. Oh, and a top tip – if you’re keeping the deep frame, remember the insert takes up quarter of an inch round the outer edge of the mount if you’re laying out away from the frame… And if I’d had a couple more of the centre sheets, I would have decoupaged several of the elements, such as the flowers and the stamps, and the lovely lady with the umbrella.

Hope this inspires you to work with the Collection – and work big!


Silhouette Cameo PixScan – first glance review

For those with a Silhouette Cameo (or Portrait), you may have seen that they have released a new update to their Design software to complement the new PixScan mat. This mat has the registration marks already printed on the mat so you can now have items printed across the whole of the page for cutting out (rather than in between printed registration marks). It also allows for areas of pre-printed papers to be cut out as well, such as specific elements from a scrapbook paper.

I got hold of the mat two days ago, and had a very quick play with it to see how good it is. I do recommend calibrating your cutter, following the instructions that came with the machine, as my first cuts were disappointing until I realised the registration was off kilter due to poor calibration. You will also need to calibrate the software to the camera that you are using – this is explained in the File>Open PixScan Image… sidebar under the Import from file and Camera Calibration drop menu.

The process is fairly straight forward. Start by sticking your printed item within the box on the mat. Here I am wanting to cut out some jar labels for some home dried herbs:IMG_5147

The mat should be evenly and reasonably well lit, and the whole of the mat needs to be in shot. The black squares around the edge are what the software uses to square everything up. Transfer your image from the camera to your computer and then select File>Open PixScan Image… in the Silhouette Studio software (v3.1 and above). In the right side bar, click on Import from File and then click on the button. The file reads in, and if there are errors, messages will be shown telling you what you need to fix. If all imports well, your image appears in the window, and you can add cut lines manually or using the trace function.IMG_5148

Load the mat (without moving your work!) into the machine. I’ve noticed that if the edge of the mat is too far (even a couple of millimetres) to the left, registration fails at the cutting stage. Send the cut to the Silhouette, and the machine will scan three corners of the mat before cutting round the shapes you’ve set.IMG_5149

And here are my cut labels. Registration, whilst not precisely spot on, seems to be far far better than if I had printed the registration marks onto my page. Given this is from a less than perfect photograph, I am staggered and impressed at how clever the programming is behind the import process.

I decided to give the system a little bit more of a workout. I used a page from the Craftwork Cards Potting Shed collection, and selected several of the page elements to cut out. The results speak for themselves. There does appear to have been a little bit of vertical distortion between the page and the import, but for my purposes, this is fine – and soooo much quicker and neater than I manage with scissors!IMG_5150

And in a real trial of the system, and my settings for the trace function, I attempted to cut out some of the frames in the Craftwork Cards Paper Couture collection – I did learn that you can tweak the camera image in other software (e.g. Photoshop) to aid the tracing. If you do this, only edit the area of the picture that contains your artwork, and leave the rest of the mat unedited.IMG_5151

In summary – what was already a well-used and useful machine has now been improved with some clever software programming algorithms and a great cutting mat. All I need to see now is a 12×12″ cutting area on a PixScan mat and I’ll be very, very happy.